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26

Jun

Salvation Army Official says that gays should be put to death

So a high ranking official within the Australian branch of the Salvation Army has gone on radio saying that the Christian belief (and official belief of the salvos) is that gays should be put to death. Something to keep in mind at the next red shield door knock appeal.

24

Mar

A Christian friend once gave me the book “The Case for Christ,” I suspect he still follows this tumblr (Hi!). I let him know once that I didn’t find the book convincing because it was simply too biased. That was probably an oversimplification of the issue I had with it’s arguments, but I read this at a time before I had really studied any religion or philosophy so I couldn’t quite put my finger on why this book failed to persuade me. 

Steve gives a very comprehensive read through and perspective on the book. He explains very well why this apologetic work fails to do its job for many atheists (or just people objectively searching for the truth). For those of you who haven’t heard of this book, it is probably one of the most acclaimed modern apologetic novels, so its worth knowing what it has to say. I decided to post Steve’s take on chapter 11 as this really was where I found the book starting to fall apart. Steven rightly points out the tendencies for Strobel to hastily jump to conclusions and use of the bible as evidence without first examining the nature of the bible and it’s reliability.

First part is here.

23

Aug

I had a friend say to me once

We were having a conversation about his religion and the discrepancies within his text of choice. In the middle of the discussion he starts saying that I am “provocative and controlling.” When I ask if he is overreacting to my questions he says: “Nah I’m okay with questioning just instead of me answering a question I find that a point is being pushed at me. “

This struck me as terrifyingly odd. Isn’t the whole point of a discussion to be persuasive? To push points? To argue and be open to arguments? To better form an opinion and to understand the issue better? Am I not supposed to ask questions in a discussion? Is it wrong to make people question their core beliefs? Was I being too aggressive? Should I not have presented my opinion at all? I wondered why my friend would sound so indignant in his accusation that I was attempting to “push a point” to him, as if it was immoral. 

And I guess this is my hypothesis about the whole matter. Many religious (and even many non-religious) really do feel it is wrong to try to persuade anyone out of their faith positions. The act of simply attempting to persuade someone that their religious beliefs are wrong or need to be changed is seen as an aggressive, “provocative and controlling” act. Is it because in church there simply is no room for discussion? Is it because they have never heard a dissenting opinion before?  Is it because the act of turning someone into an apostate almost seen as murder? I am truly curious as to why this attitude exists.

My second hypothesis is that many of the religious also believe that religious beliefs NEVER change. That religious beliefs are immutable and so attempting to change them is futile and annoying. This of course is untrue, there are many documented cases of religious deconverts - many of whom reside on the internet and openly tell their stories. Unsurprisingly many were ultimately swayed by persuasive arguments, albeit over a sustained period of time.

Do you think discussions should be about persuasion? Or do you think that they’d be better off as a simple you say your point of view, I say mine type of affair?

28

Jul

America Religious Identification Survey 2008

Ever heard the statement that the group of “nones” or “no religion” is the largest growing religious group in America? I believe that statement is based on this survey. It may be worth checking out what the survey has to say in detail.

The rise of the Nones has been one of the most important trends on the American religious scene since 1990. The overall rate of growth of those expressing no religious preference slowed after 2001 but the numbers offering a specific self-identification as Agnostic or Atheist rose markedly from over a million in 1990 to about 2 million in 2001 to about 3.6 million today. The historic reluctance of Americans to self-identify in this manner or use these terms seems to have diminished.  

Is Norway’s Suspected Murderer Anders Breivik a Christian Terrorist?

Is this a religious vision, and am I right in calling Breivik a Christian terrorist? It is true that Breivik—and McVeigh, for that matter—were much more concerned about politics, race, and history than about scripture and religious belief; with Breivik even going so far as to write that “It is enough that you are a Christian-agnostic or a Christian atheist (an atheist who wants to preserve at least the basics of the European Christian cultural legacy (Christian holidays, Christmas and Easter)).”

But much the same can be said about Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and many other Islamist activists. Bin Laden was a businessman and engineer, and Zawahiri was a medical doctor; neither were theologians or clergy. Their writings show that they were much more interested in Islamic history than theology or scripture, and imagined themselves as re-creating glorious moments in Islamic history in their own imagined wars. Tellingly, Breivik writes of al Qaeda with admiration, as if he would love to create a Christian version of their religious cadre.

If bin Laden is a Muslim terrorist, Breivik and McVeigh are surely Christian ones. Breivik was fascinated with the Crusades and imagined himself to be a member of the Knights Templar, the crusader army of a thousand years ago. But in an imagined cosmic warfare time is suspended, and history is transcended as the activists imagine themselves to be acting out timeless roles in a sacred drama. The tragedy is that these religious fantasies are played out in real time, with real and cruel consequences.

Religion, another form of tribalism that segregates and endangers our society. 

19

Jun

christiannightmares:

Homophobic Christians throw woman from her wheelchair (Found at Jesus Needs New PR; For a related video, click here http://christiannightmares.tumblr.com/post/4371702938/an-incredibly-creepy-young-christian-man-speaks)

This is just one of the reasons why atheists speak out. Beliefs inform actions and it seems that only religious beliefs inform these inhumane actions. 

02

Jun

On September 9, 2008, Frank Turek debated atheist Christopher Hitchens, author of God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, at Virginia Commonwealth University. The topic was, “Does God Exist?” 

Part 1 of a long debate. Might want to clear your schedule to watch all of this.

01

Jun

cynbob:

Homophobia - NOT HERE - Adshel Caves to Homophobic Pressure

This upsets me.
From their facebook page:

In 2011 my partner and I were selected to appear in an advertisement for QAHC (Queensland Association of Healthy Communities –www.qahc.org.au). The picture you see on this event is the final product. The aim of this campaign is to promote safe sex for gay men, but also for the wider community. We also felt that this campaign and the exposure these advertisements granted would help gain a wider level of acceptance of the gay community. The image displays not only love and tenderness; you can clearly see our engagement ring and the Christian cross which Anthony wears around his neck. We are real people, and this campaign is about real people. We have been together for six and a half years, we’ve been engaged since August last year, and just last week we were approved to become foster parents, which will now be happening very soon. We are real people, with a real life, in real love. This evening, Adshel, the company that distributed our ads to bus shelters across Brisbane, have WITHOUT the consent of QAHC, removed all of our advertisements. This has been due to Wendy Francis and The Australian Christian Lobby Group. Adshel has bowed to BLATANT homophobia and in 2011 there is NO PLACE FOR THIS. To read the complaints, visit:http://www.qahc.org.au/files/shared/docs/ASB_-_complaints.pdfWe are asking everyone to help us take a stand and contact Adshel and demand that the adverts be put back up in their original locations.

And yet people will still say that religious beliefs are harmless. They will only be harmless when they start promoting a morality that cares about human suffering and the real consequences of actions. As long as they think that right and wrong are defined by a book, or by a heavenly law maker and people keep accommodating those who express these beliefs, this kind of bigotry will continue.
Please visit the facebook event and support!

cynbob:

Homophobia - NOT HERE - Adshel Caves to Homophobic Pressure

This upsets me.

From their facebook page:

In 2011 my partner and I were selected to appear in an advertisement for QAHC (Queensland Association of Healthy Communities –www.qahc.org.au). The picture you see on this event is the final product. The aim of this campaign is to promote safe sex for gay men, but also for the wider community. We also felt that this campaign and the exposure these advertisements granted would help gain a wider level of acceptance of the gay community. The image displays not only love and tenderness; you can clearly see our engagement ring and the Christian cross which Anthony wears around his neck. We are real people, and this campaign is about real people. We have been together for six and a half years, we’ve been engaged since August last year, and just last week we were approved to become foster parents, which will now be happening very soon. We are real people, with a real life, in real love. 

This evening, Adshel, the company that distributed our ads to bus shelters across Brisbane, have WITHOUT the consent of QAHC, removed all of our advertisements. This has been due to Wendy Francis and The Australian Christian Lobby Group. Adshel has bowed to BLATANT homophobia and in 2011 there is NO PLACE FOR THIS. To read the complaints, visit:http://www.qahc.org.au/fil
es/shared/docs/ASB_-_complaints.pdf

We are asking everyone to help us take a stand and contact Adshel and demand that the adverts be put back up in their original locations.

And yet people will still say that religious beliefs are harmless. They will only be harmless when they start promoting a morality that cares about human suffering and the real consequences of actions. As long as they think that right and wrong are defined by a book, or by a heavenly law maker and people keep accommodating those who express these beliefs, this kind of bigotry will continue.

Please visit the facebook event and support!

31

May

Age of Reason: US High School Student Threatened With Death For Apposing School Prayer

ageofreason:

NORTH LOUISIANA has been described as “the buckle on the Bible Belt” – and not without good reason, as high school student Damon Fowler at Bastrop High School has discovered to his cost.

On the eve of his graduation, the atheist student contacted the school superintendent to let him know that he opposed the inclusion of a prayer at the graduation ceremony. He pointed out that government-sponsored prayer in the public schools was unconstitutional and legally forbidden – and that he would be contacting the ACLU if it went ahead. The school agreed to substitute it with a moment of silent reflection, which was subsequently scuppered by a Christian student.

Then Fowler’s name, and his role in this incident, was leaked. As a direct result:

1) Fowler has been hounded, pilloried, and ostracized by his community.

2) One of Fowler’s teachers has publicly demeaned him.

3) Fowler has been physically threatened. Students have threatened to “jump him” at graduation practice, and he has received multiple threats of bodily harm, and even death threats.

4) Fowler’s parents cut off his financial support, kicked him out of the house, and threw his belongings onto the front porch.

Oh, and the school went ahead and had the graduation prayer anyway.

According to this report, Fowler has become the center of what he terms a “shitstorm”: he has been harassed, vilified, targeted with insults and name-calling and hateful remarks. He’s been told t he’s the devil. He’s been told, “Go cry to your mommy… oh, wait. You can’t”. (A reference to him being disowned by his parents.) He’s been told that he’s only doing this to get attention. A student’s public prayer at a pre-graduation “Class Night” event was turned into an opportunity for the school and community to gang up on Fowler and publicly close ranks against him – teachers as well as students. (Here’svideo). And people seen defending him have been targeted as well.

Here are a few comments on the Bastrop Enterprise news story about the controversy: (continued on link through)

I heard about this situation with Damon Fowler last week. Absolutely despicable to think that this could happen in a modern secular society. It may seem far away for those of us who live overseas, but we need to recognise that we no longer live in a society segregated by bodies of water. As we move closer to a global society these kind of religiously exclusive and intolerant attitudes need to be addressed. I highly encourage everyone to contribute a little to Damon Fowler’s scholarship fund considering he now has no parental support to help him into college.

24

May

What would you first ask a Christian to challenge them to question their beliefs?

This is a little hypothetical I’ve been running in my head lately. I’m surrounded by many moderate liberal Christians who are quite comfortable in their religion, so comfortable that whether or not their beliefs about reality are true is not even seen as an issue.

So given this, I think I would ask:

"Would you be satisfied living your whole life under a belief system that was completely untrue, but provided you much comfort?"

If they answer yes then it seems the discussion needs to head further into the “why-truth-is-important” realm rather than actually discussing what is true. If they agree that truth is more important then you have some proper common ground - you can head into how we come to know truth and eventually why Christianity as a belief system holds no credence.

So, what would you ask?